Microsoft OneNote 2013 Free now without restrictions (but one)

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 14, 2015
Updated • Jan 4, 2018
Companies, Microsoft

OneNote 2013 is a note-taking application by Microsoft that is available for various desktop and mobile operating systems.

It is part of all editions of Microsoft Office 2013 and Office 365, and has been made available as a standalone version for Windows as well.

This standalone version has been freely available in a limited version for personal use since last year for Windows 7 and newer systems of the company.

Several OneNote features were restricted or not available at all in the free version on the other hand, and users who wanted to access those as well had to buy a full copy of Office 2013 or subscribe to one of Microsoft's Office 365 plans.

Brad Carob, the program manager for the OneNote team, announced yesterday on the company's Office blog that these restrictions have been lifted.

This means essentially that users who run the standalone version of OneNote on Windows 7 or Windows 8 get the same feature set as users who run it as part of an Office 2013 installation or Office 365 subscription.

In particular, the following features are now available to OneNote 2013 Free users:

Password Protected Sections

password protect section

A section is a tab in OneNote and it is now possible to password protect individual sections in the application.

This is done with a right-click on the section and the selection of Password Protect This Section from the context menu that opens up.

Page History

page history

Go back to see a previous version of a page. This can be done from the History tab in the main toolbar. There you find the page versions button which you can click on.

This is also the place to delete  all versions or disable the history entirely for the notebook.

Audio and video recording

record audio video

OneNote 2013 Free supports the recording of audio and video contents now. To do so switch to the Insert tab in the main toolbar and select either the record audio or record video button there.

Audio search

Search for words in voice and video recordings.

Embedded files

insert file

It is now possible to embed Office documents and other files directly in a OneNote notebook.

While that is great for users of the free version, there is still one restriction in place and that is that you cannot create local notebooks. The free version of OneNote supports Microsoft's cloud storage service OneDrive exclusively for saving data.

If you are interested in OneNote 2013 you can download it from the official website. Note that it is offered as a 32-bit and 64-bit download and that you need to pick the right version if you have Office installed on your system.

If you are already running OneNote 2013 on your system you can perform an update check with a click on File > Account. There you need to click on Update Options and select Update Now. The version that lifts the restrictions is 15.0.4693.1001.

Microsoft OneNote 2013 Free now without restrictions (but one)
Article Name
Microsoft OneNote 2013 Free now without restrictions (but one)
Microsoft has lifted most OneNote 2013 Free restrictions that were in place since last year when the company published the version for Windows desktops.

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  1. Anonymous said on July 29, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    does anyone know how to download the offline install apkage

  2. bud said on February 15, 2015 at 8:06 am

    martin, do you have the link for offline installer?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on February 15, 2015 at 8:32 am

      No unfortunately not. I’ll add it to the article if I get hold of it.

  3. Alex said on February 15, 2015 at 6:30 am

    I prefer the windows 8 app instead of the standard onenote – it has a nicer interface and is a fraction of the size and memory footprint.

  4. Kobe said on February 14, 2015 at 8:34 pm

    You may not be able to create local notebook, but OneDrive notebook is available offline. Just to clarify.

    1. Oxa said on February 14, 2015 at 9:36 pm

      What’s that?

  5. wjbinokc said on February 14, 2015 at 6:33 pm

    This blog pointed out that there is ONE restriction. While true, if you visit the OneNote main page (not the download page) that page emphasize the shareability of this new OneNote version. Play the video and it shows how the emphasis on sharing with all of your devices.

    In keeping with that, the OneNote blog page states this:

    The free edition of OneNote stores your notes on OneDrive for easy access across all your devices and works whether you’re online or offline. With your free Microsoft account, you’ll get 15 GB of OneDrive space for free and no limits on the number of notes you can create or sync.

    Unfortunately, this blog does not mention the addition of 15 GB of OneDrive space (free) that makes it very easy to share with all of your devices (Windows and more).

    In fairness, the download page does not mention the additional 15 GB of storage at all. One had to read more about the new OneNote to find where it mentions this.

    1. JohnMWhite said on February 14, 2015 at 8:04 pm

      I’m not sure what your objection is there. This blog does point out that you need a Microsoft account to store your notebooks with OneNote and we know that it is inherent in the use of a Microsoft account that you get 15GB of storage with OneDrive. You don’t get any additional storage from using OneNote, do you? The blog links to the OneNote site where this information is anyway.

      1. William Buntz said on February 15, 2015 at 5:46 am

        I don’t have any objection. I was merely trying to point out that by creating notebook in the cloud, the user can share notes with their other devices automatically. So, notebooks in the cloud can be a real benefit and it is not necessary to be online to create, modify or use a notebook.

  6. interstellar said on February 14, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    I have access to OneNote,
    (the web version on my Linux box).

    So, I tried it.
    But…I never use it.

    The UI and UX “flow”
    are kind of clumsy for my particular needs,
    (…just my personal opinion).

    I’m sure OneNote is good for many other people.

    I’m pretty happy with Evernote, myself –
    the Web version
    + the “Clearly” addon, to easily post notes to EN.

    Using EN for years…

    – Pale Moon 25.2.1 and FF 35
    – Ubuntu Linux 12.04 (32-bit)
    – Samsung Tablet Galaxy Tab3 / Android 4.2.2

  7. chesscanoe said on February 14, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    I thought my free OneNote on my laptop would update automatically, but thanks to your article, I updated manually to 15.0.4693.1003 under Win7x64 Home. Seems to work well.

  8. Dan said on February 14, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    Seems like an odd restriction to force files to be saved to OneDrive… unless they are planning on mining that content. Otherwise, one would think it less expensive to restrict cloud stored files and only allow local storage.

    1. george kinbote said on February 14, 2015 at 2:51 pm

      I installed last year, but the program proved to be inefficient
      the real trouble started when I tried to uninstall; it’s worse than any virus
      in a word:impossible
      fortunately I have a backup disk image, and in 15min no more OneNote 2013
      that was a close call, whew!!!

    2. kalmly said on February 14, 2015 at 2:48 pm

      Makes sense to me. MicroSoft is on a mission to push everyone to cloud computing. This is just one more step.

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